India leads increasing antibiotic consumption

India’s total use of antibiotics more than doubled from 2000 to 2015, new research says, making the country the world’s biggest consumer of antibiotics and stoking fears of increasing antibiotic resistance.

When calculated as doses per 1,000 inhabitants per day, global antibiotic consumption rose 39%, with India increasing 63%, China increasing 65%, and Pakistan increasing 21%. In high-income countries, total consumption increased modestly while doses per 1,000 inhabitants per day fell 4%.

“Of particular concern was the rapid increase in the use of last-resort compounds” such as glycylcyclines, oxazolidinones, carbapenems, and polymyxins in all countries, the authors say. “Radical rethinking of policies to reduce consumption is necessary, including major investments in improved hygiene, sanitation, vaccination, and access to diagnostic tools both to prevent unnecessary antibiotic use and to decrease the burden of infectious disease.”

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Scientists at India’s government labs struggle to adjust to changing priorities

Government lab researchers in India are feeling pushed to abandon fundamental research projects in favor of more applied, mission-driven work.

The shift follows deep budget cuts at the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), India’s largest R&D organization. “The funding available this year is short by half of what is needed,” says Rakesh K. Mishra, director of India’s Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB), one of 38 CSIR labs across the country.

Frustrated and angry, many scientists hesitate to openly voice their concerns because they fear retaliation. “Many research projects have been affected. Projects cannot stop overnight, so we continue what we can with the reagents we have,” says a senior scientist from a New Delhi-based CSIR lab who asked to remain anonymous. “The institute is functioning at minimum running costs.”

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India’s government lab funding

Adjusting for inflation, CSIR will get a slight budget decrease under Prime Minister Modi’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.
a Numbers adjusted for inflation to 2018 rupees using the combined rural and urban CPI in January before the start of the fiscal year.
b Proposed; figure converted from Indian rupees to U.S. dollars at the March 7 exchange rate of $1.00 = 64.98 rupees.
Sources: CSIR, Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation.

India’s drug security threatened by reliance on imports

Concern is growing in India about pharmaceutical companies’ dependence on low-cost bulk drug imports from China to meet escalating demand for pharmaceuticals at home and for export.

Although India is a key supplier of formulated generic and affordable medicines to the world market, it imports bulk active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) from China, Germany, Italy, Singapore, and the U.S. China alone accounts for 66% of crucial raw materials, especially antibiotics.

Indian companies are capable of manufacturing the APIs in needed quantities, but the compounds can be imported at lower cost, India’s Minister of State for Chemicals & Fertilizers, Mansukh L. Mandaviya, told India’s Parliament on Dec. 19.

The Indian government had started in 2016 to develop API manufacturing parks with infrastructure such as better power supplies and waste treatment plants. That effort is currently in limbo as the government tries to figure out how to finance the projects.